Anna Loka: A Review

Anna Loka is a brand new vegan restaurant in the Roath area of Cardiff.  I had  been hearing some great things about the day time cafe menu, but they didn’t have an evening opening so I held back on visiting.

Recently they started to open in the evenings from 6pm. We booked for a table of ten to celebrate my imminent marriage to the bearded one.

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They offered 3 courses for £19.95, so of course we had the full lot. Here’s what was on offer:

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I had the pumpkin arancini. It was crunchy on the outside and  gooey on the inside. The sweet tomato and herb sauce really complimented the the richness of the arancini. wpid-wp-1445193405256.jpeg wpid-wp-1445193583241.jpeg

My friends and family all had different dishes and were very happy with their choices. I had a few bites of everyone else’s, including eating the pansies from my mum’s salad, which the whole table found amusing.

Falafel.

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Beetroot Cappaccio.

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Southern fried vegetables.

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The main course was something altogether. Mine was absolutely mind blowing! I had the seitan steak. It was like roast beef, smothered in a beautiful gravy with perfect mustard mash and crunchy green vegetables. They even made the seitan themselves.

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My brother had the baked aubergine. He said it was good. I didn’t like it. I thought the aubergine was under cooked and the flavours didn’t seem quite right. Mismatched almost. It looked great though.

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The rest of the family had the raviollo. I tasted some and it was herby, fresh and full of flavour. It was a great dish, but I preferred my steak.

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We tried each other’s puddings and agreed that they were all amazing. I’d order any of them again. Personally, even though I ordered the creme brulee (and it had the crack when I broke the crunchy topping) , I thought the parfait was the star of the desserts.

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I give Anna Loka a 9.5 out of 10. The 0.5 will be remedied when I can have a nice glass of red wine with my steak. (They intend to bring in alcohol in the future.) The service was excellent and the food outstanding overall.

I’ll be popping in to try the breakfast and lunch menu at some point in the future too.

 

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Chocolate Mousse

It’s really hot in the UK right now. Like, we are literally having a heatwave. This is unusual for us so of course I need to make something yummy and refreshing to deal with the heat.

A chocolate mousse garnished with orange and lime sounds perfect.

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This is really easy to make which is great for me because I am absolutely rubbish when it comes to sweet food.

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Here’s the ingredients:

1 avocado, peeled

A shot glass full of soya milk

2 tablespoons of coco powder

Here’s what you do:

Blend it all together

Put in fridge for about 5 hours

Garnish with lime and orange

Eat in your garden in the sun

Feed to your Beard.

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Enjoy friends and remember to stay hydrated in this heat.

Christmas Tapas Menu

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I’ve only really come around to the idea of Christmas this year. Every year previous I’ve organised an event called Big Gay Christmas, where we would typically avoid general Christmas activities, get drunk and have a laugh with our friends. I would host an open house party and people would drop in and out all day, eat food and play video games with me. It also meant CHAMPAGNE FOR BREAKFAST and who doesn’t like that one day a year? Last year unfortunately I was severely let down. I spent most of the day by myself, until a kind friend invited me over and by which point I was so drunk and upset I fell asleep on her sofa.  With that in mind I decided that my generosity was no long appreciated and therefore would no longer be offered. Luckily I have a lovely Beardy who has a great family and they are having us and the woofer over for Christmas. This gives me great joy because for the first time in ten years, SOMEONE ELSE WILL BE COOKING! (Although I have agreed to make mulled wine.)

I’m at Mykey’s family for Christmas, so that means I’m at my parent’s for New Years. I promised them I’d make something tasty, so I decided I’d do a bit of a random tapas menu. Clearly I needed to practise it as well, due to my family being rather large. (Quite ironic for someone so avidly against population expansion.)

The menu is as follows:

  • Parsnip soup
  • Home made bread
  • Plant based cheeses
  • Chutneys and jellies
  • Bread crackers
  • Dutch apple cake (blatantly store brought)
  • Sweet, breaded and roasted “ham”
  • “Steak” and ale mini pies
  • Fruit jelly and custard
  • Roast potatoes
  • Thai “fish” cakes
  • Mushroom pate

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Obviously you need to like make gravy and steam some vegetables of your choice, but that is a 4-6 person spread right there.

Vanilla & Maple Syrup Cookies

I love cooking, but when it comes to baking I’m probably the worst person in the world at it! Don’t get me wrong, vegan cakes are no harder to make than non-vegan ones. If anything they are easier because you don’t have to mess around with eggs etc. The reason I’m so bad? Well because you have to follow the recipe using proper measurements for it all to come out right. You can imagine my surprise when I just threw a load of ingredients together the other night and they actually came out ok. No scrap that, they were amazingly tasty….even if they didn’t look it.

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Here’s my made up spur of the moment recipe:

 

¾ tub of vegan butter (I used Vitalite.)

A phone sized wedge of vegetable shortening (I used Trex.)

2 tablespoons of vanilla essence.

Half a small bottle of maple syrup.

2 tablespoons of egg replacer (I don’t normally use this stuff, but I just thought it might work for once and it was almost out of date.)

A shot of water.

10 tablespoons of self raising flour.

Maple

 

 

Method to my madness:

  • Place the butter and the shortening in a bowl and mix together using an everyday fork, until it becomes a type of thick paste.
  • Now add the flour, vanilla essence, maple syrup and egg replacer. Mix together with clean hands and if it becomes too dry, now is the time to add the shot of water.
  • It should basically look….well like cookie dough! You can also try it now because it doesn’t have any nasty things in it that will make you sick. Do you like it? Does it need more vanilla? Then add it!
  • Now grab some greaseproof paper, put it on a baking tray and spoon out small circles which will become your cookies.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees, then turn right down to 150 degrees for another 10 minutes. (This will insure the outside is crispy and the inside is soft.)
  • Serve with a nice glass of plant based milk.

 

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G’s Cafe Bude

Vegan Camp this year was held in a camp site about five minutes outside of Bude, in Cornwall. We are often not very hopeful of finding restaurants or cafes in the remote villages and towns that usually surround camp, but this year we did.

Our first dealings with G’s was after I had seen the group communal meal menu, that was organised for later in the week. It was raining pretty hard outside and I really couldn’t be bothered to cook, so I convinced my little sister Charlotte and my partner Mykey to have breakfast out in Bude. The cafe wasn’t very hard to find and had clearly marked outside that it had vegan options available.

Mykey and I ordered two pots of tea (with soya milk) and Charlotte ordered a soya hot chocolate.

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Mykey also took a hell of a lot of photos of us messing around. *STANDARD*

The cafe was clean, tidy and not very busy when we first arrived however customers seemed to start arriving around 10:30. The atmosphere was lovely and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly.

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We of course could not help ourselves and had to order the biggest breakfast on the menu. It was called, “The Veggie Ansom.” At £8.95 you certainly got value for money. The breakfast contained, two Redwood’s sausages, two rashers of Redwood’s bacon, three hashbrowns, two slices of toast with soya butter, baked beans, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. Charlotte had a smaller version, but couldn’t finish it so we ate the rest of her’s too. I’ve not had a breakfast like that for years. A proper holiday treat and absolutely exceptional. We revisited once more for breakfast and once for lunch with sandwiches (spaghetti for Char) and scones and jam with redbush tea. I also haven’t had scones in years because I am rubbish at baking.

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The staff began to know us by site and always asked how we were and if we were enjoying ourselves. SAM_0604

The best night for food however was when the whole of Vegan Camp went to G’s for a communal meal. The owners and staff really pulled out all the stops.

To start Mykey had a creamy mushroom bruschetta. (Closed cup mushrooms with red onions, port, soya cream and herbs £4.95.) I had a carrot, orange and ginger soup. ( served with warm bread £3.80.)

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Both dishes were full of flavour and tingled the taste buds. We’ve eaten in more expensive restaurants that have not served us starters this good.

Do you know what else is great about G’s? They have an alcohol license and sell traditional Cornish vegan cider. 7.3% I’ll have you know! 🙂

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For the main course, Grandma, Mum and I had the lentil and butternut squash tagine (served with salad and cous cous £7.95.)

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Grandma doesn’t do peppers, but she ate this lot. In fact she wolfed it down the same as my mum and I. It filled us all up, but was light enough to leave space for a pudding.

Mykey and my Dad had a falafel and hummus wrap (served with mixed salad and sweet potato fries £7.25.) Mykey described this dish as, “a massive tortilla stuffed with everything. Yum!” I tried a few bites and I was blown away with the textures and flavours in my mouth. Who ever thought something so simple could be so tasty?

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Then oh my goodness, there was pudding. A rare treat for my family of vegans who are constantly trying to stay fit and healthy.

My mum and dad had the summer pudding (served with soya ice cream £4.95.)

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I’ve never eaten summer pudding before, but I was so happy when loads of berries came flowing out of the middle when I nicked a spoonful from them.

Mykey had an ice cream sundae with summer fruit (£4.95) I thought it was a little basic for the price, but it tasted great none the less. An improvement could have been some chocolate sauce or even some chocolate chips. 😉

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I think I had the best pudding of all; dark chocolate and ginger torte with ice cream. You can see the look on my face as I’m eating it, that I am enjoying it beyond words.

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This place is a must visit. Thank-you for making our holiday…and the extra 2 kg on our waistlines. See you soon!

9.5/10

Raw Millionaire’s Shortbread

Another great raw treat which is also great for pre and post workout food. I took this to the gym with me and about 15 people tried it seemed very impressed.

I first heard of this delight at a vegan potluck when my friend’s daughter Amy made a batch. Her’s were much more eye pleasing and tasted just as good. Unfortunately I don’t think I’m ever going to be good at making food look professional, but I’m learning with time.

Biscuit Base

Ingredients:

  • A large handful of dates
  • A large cup of almonds (preferably soaked for 12 hours and then rinsed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Method:

Grind all ingredients in a blender until the mixture is sticky and has the consistency of crushed digestive biscuits (similar to a traditional cheesecake base). Grease a dish with coconut oil and then press the mixture into the dish, packing it tight.

Caramel Layer

Ingredients:

  • Half a  jar of light tahini
  • Half a small bottle of maple syrup
  • Two tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

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Chocolate Topping

Method:

Blend all ingredients until smooth and then pour over the “Biscuit” base. Put dish in freezer for around 15-20 minutes to allow the “caramel” to set.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp raw cacao (or unsugared coco powder)
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 3 tsp coconut oil

Method:

Simply put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand. The mixture starts to set quite quickly, so it is a good idea to put the bowl inside a larger bowl filled with hot water to keep it soft. Once your “caramel” has set, pour the chocolate on top spreading it evenly and then return your shortbread to the freezer to set. Once the chocolate is hard, remove your Healthy Millionaires Shortbread from the freezer, cut in to squares and serve!

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Vanilla Cupcakes – Literally!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m rubbish at making cakes. I don’t know why I bother most of the time because with amount of sugar and other crap in them, I can only have one and then I have to give the rest away. (Living clean and training dirty!) I can’t decorate them to save my life either which is why they look like a five year old has made them. Meh! They tasted good and that’s all that really matters. The below recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.

Frosting Ingredients:

½             cup nonhydrogenated shortening (Trex)

½             cup nonhydrogenated margarine

3½          cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (Caster sugar)

1½          tsp. vanilla extract

¼             cup plain soy milk or soy creamer

1              tsp. red food colouring

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Cupcake Ingredients:

1              cup soy milk

1              tsp. apple cider vinegar

1¼          cups all-purpose flour

2              Tbsp. cornstarch

¾             tsp. baking powder

½             tsp. baking soda

¼             tsp. salt (increase salt to ½ teaspoon if you’re using oil instead of margarine)

½             cup non-hydrogenated margarine, softened, or ⅓ cup canola oil

¾             cup sugar

2              tsp. vanilla extract

¼             tsp. almond extract, caramel extract, or more vanilla extract

 

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled.

If using margarine: Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.

In a separate large bowl, use a handheld mixer at medium speed to cream the margarine and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. (Don’t beat past 2 minutes.) Beat in the vanilla and other extract, if using, then alternate beating in the soy milk mixture and dry ingredients, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times.

If using oil: Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and other extracts, if using, in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before frosting.